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Meet Donors Trust: The Little-Known Group That Lets the Wealthy Secretively Fund Right-Wing Causes

Since 1999, the nonprofit charity Donors Trust has handed out nearly $400 million in private donations to more than 1,000 right-wing and libertarian groups.

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BILL HEMMER: I don’t know if we should be laughing or crying over this.

STUART VARNEY: No.

BILL HEMMER: I mean, Puerto Rico alone, 99th Congressional District, 98th Congressional District, a no-number congressional district.

STUART VARNEY: Yes.

BILL HEMMER: I mean, good lord!

STUART VARNEY: Yes, yes, yes. Raise your eyebrows, please. Look, it’s very bad, very unreliable statistics, and it really undermines all of these claims, these gross claims of job creation from stimulus.

AMY GOODMAN: That Fox News report was based on a report by newmexicowatchdog.org, one of the many so-called watchdog websites that are almost entirely funded by the Donors Trust. John Dunbar, your response?

JOHN DUNBAR: Well, I think that the implication of that report was that there were millions and millions of dollars that were being misspent, when the reality was it was data errors. I don’t think anyone would defend the government’s ability to create accurate databases. They clearly didn’t do a very good job on that front, at least on the Recovery Act. However, the implication that all of this money was going into a black hole was actually nonsense. It was kind of a phantom issue about phantom districts, as the Associated Press had reported. A lot of the reporting by these different watchdog organizations that are funded by Franklin has been called into question, including by the Nieman Center at Harvard that’s called it a lack in context and in some cases actually distortions of facts.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to break, John Dunbar, politics editor at the Center for Public Integrity, works on this months-long investigation into the Donors Trust called "Donors Use Charity to Push Free-Market Policies in States." When we come back, Suzanne Goldenberg will also join us, of The Guardian, who’s been investigating the funding of climate denial groups. This is Democracy Now! We’ll be back in a minute.

 
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